Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
“What am I doing this for?” is an important question to ask yourself. Whether at work, at home, in the gym or debating that last drink of the night, we should all have a purpose in mind when making decisions — and nowhere is that more important than at the gym.
Maybe you’re looking for ripped abs or bulging biceps. Perhaps it’s a tuxedo you want to fit into or a weight class you want to get out of. Maybe you want everyone to see your beach body, or maybe you just want to be better when only one person is looking — your partner, in bed.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that exercise has many more benefits for your sex life beyond how you look naked and how much stamina you have when it’s your turn on top. But does working out increase sex drive? Maybe.
Below, we’ll explain the many ways a workout works out well for your libido, as well as the best exercises for better bedroom performance.
So grab your water bottle and get ready for some sets…of knowledge, that is.
The scientific relationship between libido and exercise is complex and multifactorial — but it’s also really, really simple to understand.
In order to function sexually, you need a healthy cardiovascular system, well-balanced hormones, fair mental health and stress levels, a little bit of self-confidence and enough stamina to actually do the deed.
Turns out, those are the exact things exercise can help with. So every time you’re hitting the gym, the trail, the sidewalk or the mat for some exercise, you’re doing it for your game, bro.
At least, that’s the takeaway from a 2019 study, which found a close correlation between exercise and libido in older English adults — you still want to be having sex in 30 years, don’t you?
There’s a pretty clear relationship between erectile function and exercise. But rather than working out directly boosting sexual health, it’s the other way around. Many studies have shown that insufficient exercise can cause you to have problems with sexual performance.
Here’s the reality: Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with vascular issues that’ll likely increase your risk of erectile dysfunction. Good exercise habits can ward off those problems, even if you’re overweight right now.
Okay, we get that exercise is good for your sexual health, but what specifically does some cardio and strength training do for erections? This is a good question, and in fact, there are many answers.
Whether it’s time at the gym, on the treadmill or on the stationary bike, exercise does many things that can directly or indirectly impact your sex life, including:
Increased blood flow. Regular exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise, improves blood circulation and increases blood flow throughout the body, including the genital area. Enhanced blood flow to the genital organs can promote sexual arousal and responsiveness.
Hormonal effects. Exercise has been shown to influence hormone levels, including testosterone, which plays a significant role in sexual desire in both men and women. Intense or resistance-based exercise, such as weight lifting, may temporarily increase testosterone levels, potentially boosting libido.
Stress reduction. Exercise is known to reduce stress levels by stimulating the release of endorphins, commonly referred to as “feel-good” hormones. Lower stress levels can positively impact sexual desire by reducing anxiety, promoting relaxation and enhancing mood.
Improved body image and self-confidence. Regular exercise can lead to improvements in body composition, muscle tone and overall physical fitness. These changes can enhance body image and self-confidence, which may positively influence sexual desire and self-perception.
Enhanced energy levels and stamina. Regular physical activity can improve cardiovascular fitness, endurance and overall energy levels. Increased stamina and physical vitality can translate to improved sexual performance and a heightened desire for sexual activity.
Enhanced mood and mental well-being. Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health by reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Improved mood and mental well-being can have a direct influence on sexual desire and overall sexual satisfaction.
Increased body awareness and sensuality. Engaging in exercises that promote body awareness, such as yoga or dance, can help individuals connect with their bodies and increase their overall sense of sensuality. This heightened body awareness can lead to an enhanced sexual experience and desire.
Improved sleep quality. Regular exercise has been linked to better sleep quality and duration. Sufficient sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy libido and sexual function. By promoting restful sleep, exercise can indirectly contribute to improved sexual desire and performance.
So what’s going to get you there fastest? What’s the training technique of choice for an Olympian libido? Unfortunately, there isn’t one.
This is bad news for the “just tell me what to do” crowd — but it’s good news for those of us who want to chart our own path.
Scientifically, there’s evidence to suggest that pretty much any form of regular exercise can have a positive impact on sexual health and libido.
Here’s a list of exercise types that have been associated with potential improvements in sex drive:
Keep scrolling to learn why.
Resistance training exercises, like weight lifting, can help increase testosterone levels in both men and women. Testosterone plays a crucial role in sexual desire and performance, making strength training beneficial for improving sex drive.
Practicing yoga can help reduce stress levels, increase flexibility and improve body awareness. A 2010 study of 65 men found across-the-board benefits to a regular yoga routine over 12 weeks.
Some internet sources suggest that certain yoga poses, such as the bridge pose or the cat-cow pose, could directly target the pelvic region. This could potentially enhance sexual function and libido by exercising the muscle groups you use to do the deed — though we weren’t able to find specific studies to support this.
Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that can improve cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance. Regular swimming can increase stamina, promote weight management and boost overall fitness, which can positively impact sexual performance.
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Talk about targeted training. Pelvic floor exercises, commonly known as kegel exercises, involve contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor. These exercises can improve muscle tone and strength in the pelvic region, leading to enhanced sexual pleasure and orgasm control.
Engaging in aerobic activities such as running, cycling, brisk walking or dancing can enhance blood circulation and cardiovascular health. This improved blood flow from cardiovascular exercise can positively affect sexual function and overall libido.
While any of the above activities is better than nothing, we should note that the effectiveness of these exercises in improving sex drive can depend on various factors, such as overall health, underlying medical conditions and personal preferences.
Consult with a healthcare professional or a certified fitness trainer for personalized advice and guidance based on your specific needs and goals.
Here are some important takeaways from what we discussed:
YES, cardiovascular and strength training exercises provide numerous benefits for your libido and sexual health.
AND of the benefits, increased stamina, better cardiovascular health and improved mood and self-esteem can deliver major improvements to your sex life.
BUT if you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction or another condition, seeking specific treatment is going to be more effective than hitting the gym alone.
You can learn more in our guide to PDE5 inhibitors.
Whether you’re struggling with ED, body image issues or other health problems related to your weight and stamina (or are just trying to take your A- game to an A+), hitting the gym, pool or punching bag can be great ways to pump up your muscles and, yes, penis.
But those gains only come with time, so start today.